SURPRISINGLY INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A MAN IN CRISIS
New Performance Festival 2012|
2b theatre company (Halifax)
at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland
From 21 Feb 2012 to 25 Feb 2012
Reviewed by Vanessa Byrnes, 21 Feb 2012
“Give me one moment in time,” sang Whitney Houston, “when I'm racing with destiny.” Anthony Black's much feted-at-Festivals solo performance gives us just that, as he cleverly dissects a crucial moment in time and then expands the events leading up to its temporal date with destiny.
This is a skilful and intelligent story told with wit, poise and clarity. It's an unpredictable journey into the conscience mind of a very modern Every Man.
Played out on a fittingly claustrophobic 1 metre square stage with Black playing at least 8 diverse and well-derived characters, this capricious, moving, and slightly unnerving story centres on Atom. He's a career success story earning $400,000 a year and living in a flash house with all the stuff you could want. But his life is imploding.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but he's becoming strangely invisible in the world we live in. Due to a series of random (or perhaps not so random: is the ‘unseen hand of the Universe' at work?) events, his life is turned upside down and inside out.
Questions of family, belonging, history, identity and meaning now plague his every thought, and supersede the previous realities of making money to provide for his equally intelligent – but infinitely more practical – partner and baby son. He doesn't fit anymore in this time and place.
Black's performance carries a sense of grace and presence. The piece seems to be questioning how to spend each moment in life, each year, a decade, a lifetime. The play is told in present tense, directly and cleverly using a few tricks of hand, light, sound and voice. It's a compelling landscape that Black creates on his square metre podium.
Physics and ethics collide in unexpected ways and Black skilfully glides between accents, character portraits and situations to follow Atom's quest for understanding. It's funny, too, amongst sensitively written moments of insight. The opening night audience appreciated the humour in this piece, a lovely counterpoint to the intense level of listening the piece requires.
Houston's death this past week reminds us that no matter how infinite and expansive our appetite for fame, wealth, mood-altering substances or stuff is, each of our lives are finite. Sooner or later it all has to contract.
At that moment of reversal of fortune, can we change what's already set in motion? What will our lives come to mean? What really matters? What do we leave behind? Tempus fugit, and all that.
How fitting to see this work in a week when Houston's celebrity death reminds us that just one moment in time can't always be given. But it can be understood. I was touched and provoked by this moving, surprisingly intimate portrait of a man in crisis. It's not what you might expect so that alone is reason to see it.
from ‘One moment in time' (Lyrics by Whitney Houston)
I want one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity
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See also reviews by:
Sharu Delilkan (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);